Remembering music of the ’60s
Weish shares the stage with a popular ’60s pop band in an SG50 film, and shares her experience.
Based on a true story, the short film called “You’re The Boy” traces the history of a ’60s pop band through the discovery of a song and a rather persistent and loving granddaughter. She learns about the story behind her grandfather’s favourite song and plots a band reunion with his bandmates for his birthday.
The band featured in the film, The Silver Strings, is one of the most popular ’60s pop bands in Singapore who famously opened for The Rolling Stones in 1965 and performed for singer Anita Sarawak and the late singer/songwriter Shirley Nair. The band split in 1971 and in the four decades since, it occasionally reunites to play, but not necessarily with the original band members, according to a news article.
The film, which was directed by Roslee Yusof, managing partner and director of local production company Freeflow Productions, was created for the SG50 celebrations by advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). The granddaughter featured in the film is Chew Wei Shan or Weish, a musician and artist in her 20s. Ageless Online chats with her about the experience:
Can you share more about your involvement in the film?
I sang and acted in it. Being a young musician in the local arts scene, I think I was casted to form that connection between authentic musicians from the past and present. After all, the Freeflow Productions’ team sought out The Silver Strings –the actual band from the ’60s, who acted and played as themselves, which was super cool!
What made you want to be a part of the film?
I’d never really acted for the camera before, so my first instinct was to say ‘no’! But the director and production manager, who were familiar with my music, persuaded me that I was exactly what would fulfil their vision for the character, in terms of voice and persona. Since the film was about music, and a legendary local band, no less, I took it up. I’m so glad I did!
What were some outcomes you got from being a part of the film, relating to seniors?
These guys are real rockstars, man! Many of us know of them as a veteran rock ‘n’ roll band, but I didn’t realise the full magnitude of their talent and success until this project. Hearing all their stories on set about the heyday of Singapore music really had me reading up on the 1960s and ’70s scene in more detail. I mean, we’ve all heard it before — the Government banned jukebox saloons, tea dances, long hair, rock ‘n’ roll music, etc. They also increased entertainment taxes for live bands by 100 percent at nightclubs, essentially wiping out the music scene and forcing them underground.
What I never realised, though, was just how successful Singaporean music was before all that happened – we had a huge local and regional fan-base, exceptional record sales, and even bands on international top-10s. Most sources I’ve consulted say we’re not even a fraction of the way to our former glory … but given how exciting our music scene is today and how many obstacles it has survived, that can only mean much greater things to come! It was such an eye-opener hearing it first-hand, the wisdom and experience of a band who lived through all these important times.
How is your relationship with your own grandparents?
All my grandparents are no longer around. I’d never met either of my grandfathers, but I did have very close relationships with both my grandmothers, particularly on my paternal side. As a child, I spent many afternoons with her peeling beansprouts, putting spices out to sun-dry on big rattan sheets, pounding rumpah for her famous curries … she would package her unique blend and distribute the curry powder to friends and neighbours. We froze and preserved many bags of this curry, which outlasted even her. We finished our final bag last year, but I still dream about her all the time.
** T0 catch the short film, “You’re The Boy”, go to: https://youtu.be/-Tap-bQ9PEc.